Archive for March, 2005

WoW… same old crowd

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

The game’s fun. I can see it getting repetitive fairly quickly though. Not sure about the longevity, but it’s something I had to play both for fun and for research reasons. It has a ton of features designed to make it easy on the player.

I’d forgotten about the MMORPG crowd. This being my 4th or 5th MMORPG experience, now it’s definitely just a game. When it stops being fun, I’ll quit. I laugh at everyone complaining about lag (half of them can’t even distinguish between network latency, server problems, and poor PC performance). I laugh at people complaining about ninja looting. Most of all I laugh at people trying to claim that there is an implied morality necessary to playing the game. These days, my attitude to all of this is: if the mechanism of the game allows it, fine.

Despite this I am generally a fair and moral player. Perhaps this is born of apathy – I don’t really care enough to foster any strong emotion?

this weekend

Monday, March 7th, 2005

1. I read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Very good.
2. I started playing World of Warcraft. Elbeno is now a level 10 priest. That's also good.

Another blow against Internet anonymity

Friday, March 4th, 2005

Via Slashdot: A San Diego research team has developed a method for extracting information about a machine from the timestamps contained in the TCP packets it sends. In summary:

  • Machines will include timestamps in each TCP packet as an option (RFC 1323: TCP Extensions for High Performance) which for most machines is negotiated by default.
  • Windows machines don't negotiate this option by default in their intial SYN, but will turn it on if the SYN/ACK sets it (breaking the RFC protocol deliberately).
  • By comparing the TCP timestamps to a local clock, and allowing for network latency and other factors, you can obtain a fairly accurate estimate of the remote machine's clock skew (how the clock drifts over time), expressed in ┬Ás/s.
  • A given machine has a constant clock skew, and different machines have different clock skews.
  • Synchronising the machine's system time (e.g. by NTP) doesn't help, because the TCP timestamp clock is separate from the system clock (TCP makes very few demands about how the TCP timestamp needs to follow actual time).

This clock skew estimation technique works with any protocol that leaks clock information, not just TCP. It doesn't provide a positive identification on its own (there are millions of machines on the Internet, many of them have identical clock skews within measurable limits). It can provide a negative result though: one can say that two traces with different clock skews belong to two different machines. There are applications in honeypot detection and counting machines behind NATs that the paper mentions.

I was almost getting withdrawal symptoms…

Friday, March 4th, 2005

…it’s been so long since I recompiled the kernel.

After going swiftly through 2.6.0 to 2.6.9, I stuck with 2.6.9 for quite a while. For some reason my firewire storage support wasn’t working properly in 2.6.9 (even though my USB storage did). So I just compiled 2.6.10, and now it works. Easy. Sometimes, even with Linux, it just works. Now I can leave my iPod dock at home with the firewire connection, and use the USB connection at work where I don’t have firewire. This is handy because the back of my PC is hard to reach – I was getting fed up with having to crawl around there every time I wanted to switch between using the iPod at work and at home.

Of course, I read 2.6.11 is here now. Well, it’s not quite a Debian source package yet, so I’m holding off for the moment.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005

Way to go, 17 computer science professors!

Girl Scout Cookies

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season again and I am chomping my way through the thin mints. Also looking forward to those Creme Eggs I picked up!